Randy 'Rare' Resnick

tapping pioneer

Randy Resnick has played guitar with many blues greats, such as Don 'Sugarcane' Harris and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.

My Night with Gala Dali

40 years ago on the road

We pulled into the city of Barcelona after a dry and dusty bus ride, but we expected comfort. The expression, "it isn't the Ritz" was not appropriate as this actually was The Ritz we were booked into.

High Tide Harris, Red Holloway, Larry Taylor, John Mayall, Soko Richardson, Randy Resnick

High Tide Harris, Red Holloway, Larry Taylor, John Mayall, Soko Richardson, Randy Resnick

We crossed the vast lobby, "we" being three black men and three white, three bearded men and three clean-shaven, but still totaling six musicians altogether, plus two great roadies there to schlep things, check us in and pay. This group of 8 males ranged in age from early twenties to late forties. A fairly wide sample of humanity with, as a bonus, one of us wearing a turban. He of the turban, Soko Richardson, who played with Ike & Tina Turner and Albert King, was also carrying a bag with 12 bottles of Louisiana Hot Sauce.  

Photo: FirstRozic

Photo: FirstRozic

The moment we had entered what must have been a wondrous place 40 years earlier, a svelte Russian-looking woman in what would be called stretch-slacks had been following our sauntering gait across to the desk, and when I sat on my road case, her eyes settled on me. (Why?) I was tired, and as I gazed over I was thinking of a middle class suburban housewife on vacation, but it didn't seem right. As I reflected on the anomalies, she rose and walked directly over to me. 

She was at least twice my age, perhaps more but she was not bashful when she said, "You are artists? My husband is an artist." The accent was there, fairly strong but unrecognizable to my then inexperienced ear. Not Spanish, though, at any rate. Coming from Los Angeles, I naively believed I'd have recognized that. As we moved through Spain I realized this too was an illusion.

"Yeah, I guess you could say that." I managed, in a neutral tone, already losing interest. "Maybe you have heard of him," she intoned. "Salvador Dali?" I looked at this woman for the first time, directly, and my own Russian background from two generations back saw something in those eyes that went deep and yet, I somehow didn't believe what she had just said. It wasn't until I later asked the hotel concièrge who this woman was and heard his incredulous answer, "But you didn't know, señor? that is señora Dali." 

Second Meeting with Gala Dali

The hotel staff seemed genuine when they said it was Salvador Dali's  wife, Gala. Why should they joke about it? It would be a matter of  national pride, would it not? So, although at that age, I had no idea  about Gala and her history, even I had heard of Salvador Dali. 
 
We had at least an hour before the gig, so I asked the concièrge what  room she was in and headed up to see her. After all, she had engaged  me in conversation, for whatever reason, so I doubted she'd be bothered by a visit from a 27 year-old rock musician. I suppose today,  her whereabouts would be shrouded in secrecy, but at that time I was told her room number and that she was in it.

The Ritz elevator looked like it could give out any time and sounded  like it was about to. I swear it took 10 minutes to go up three  floors. I knocked on her door and she answered as if she were waiting  for me (or someone else?) and without waiting to be invited in, I just  told her where we were appearing in a few hours and said she should come and be sure ask for me in the dressing room. She said she would,  and I was already imagining how I'd be telling people about this night  for years. I'm writing this 39 years later, Gala is dead, she died  only 8 years after the events depicted here. I know now that she was  born in 1894, Gala was 80 years old when we met! 

This Spanish Castle Magic with Gala Dali Was Not To Be (alas!)

First we somehow found ourselves at the seaside and got on a small fishing boat. I recall a lot of rapid Spanish and suddenly we were headed out in the harbor. A while later, as charming as this was, everyone was getting like "ok, we better go back" because it kinda looked like we were gonna go fishing seriously and we did have other cities to play in! While I don't know what the fishermen made of all this, they did bring us back to the shore.

We then somehow got to a bar. Funny how it always gets back to a bar. So this bar, and it was now maybe 3 AM, is filled with the kind of people you'd see in a 40's movie set: sailors in striped long sleeve T-shirts, huge brawls starting and ending with no one watching or caring. We had a bunch of drinks, and left, passing in an alley, by a bakery where someone went in and brought out a bunch of fresh rolls. Christ, this should have been a credit card ad: trip to Spain: $800. "Fresh-baked bread in a dark alley near the sea, priceless."

It was 8 AM when we returned to the hotel. I went up to my room and its unmussed bed for my guitar. On the way down I stopped at Gala's room and knocked. Gala opened the door in a nightgown and bade me come in with an arm whose palm went in an arc from me towards the inside of her room.

"So, you couldn't come and see us play last night?" I said, trying to be cool. She said "Oh, I was there and after, I see Dali and tell him of your great success." Then she took some hotel stationary and wrote several lines on it. She pointed to the paper and said, "You come for lunch sometime. You take a train to here" indicating the name of the place they lived on the Costa Brava "and then you take taxi here. I pay for taxi."

The note she signed, an invitation to come and visit Gala and Salvador Dali in Cadaquès, a note that for all I know could have been sold at auction for the price of a very fine bottle of wine, was stolen out of my car in the late 70's.

The unforgettable closing line though, the one that has rung throughout the decades since the  incident, and the last words to me from the 80 year-old Gala Dali were:

"But if you rich... I no pay taxi!"

I remember this story as one in a collection of things I've lived that  are a little out of the ordinary, but I'll bet Gala herself had a  million of these interludes with men half her age if Wikipedia is to  be believed.

Playing Music Together over the Internet

You may have seen that we are planning an event with  this coming Friday, to expose their platform and app to our community.

If you know any musicians who might be interested in such things, please send them to Jamkazam.com so that they can try it. If they do get set up before Friday, try to get them in contact with me so they can join the session or at least audit the  
Jamkazam Session.

Otherwise, the YouTube will be live Friday April 24th at 12 Noon EDT here: [ http://live.vuc.me ]

The technological barrier that makes this difficult (see below for the human end): Network latency. On a phone conversation, a few hundred milliseconds is acceptable, but to play music together in time, the latency needs to be much lower. To further complicate the challenge, there is latency in the hardware: computer and sound card add their own delays. The company tried to build a low-latency audio interface that connected directly to the router, which would have all but eliminated the problem locally.

Jamkazam's JamBlaster hardware connects to the network directly

Jamkazam's JamBlaster hardware connects to the network directly

Their Kickstarter project fell short though, partly IMO, because it wasn't known to enough of the appropriate community. The JamBlaster project attracted under 200 supporters.

Here are the three biggest human problems I see with this kind of technology:

1. Musicians are rarely rich and often have antiquated computers, even if they have recent smartphones. In fact, this is one of the things that a smartphone won't do well.

2. Musicians who are geeky enough to be into computing are often more oriented towards open source and linux. I know a lot of people who are into both computing & networking tech and music, people like Dave Tâht, a perfect example who I hope will make it to Friday's session.

3. Musicians aren't always into tech, so those who are not covered by (2) don't know how to setup and test something like Jamkazam. They get caught in details, don't understand latency, are often not familiar with social media and web paradigms like "contact", "search for sessions" or hardware stuff like "audio interface".

I think what would solve all the problems above would be an appliance (the JamBlaster would surely evolve into that), but the sad thing is, the market today would not support such a development. If we go even further, we can imagine the appliance that streams the audio out and/or sends recordings to Soundcloud or YouTube or whatever. Will there ever be a market to support such activity? Maybe if the Neil Youngs, Formerly Known as Princes and Jay Zs of the world wanted to jam with others without traveling, a product could emerge. 

  

"I hate jazz. It's so repetitive"

There are two jazz stories I like to tell people. 

The first happened in Southern California in an Orange County beach town. I was walking by a club and saw a stage set up. A waitress was standing right near the open door, so I asked her, "Do you have live music tonight?" to which she replied, "No, just jazz."

The second, on the road, is a little more sophisticated.

We were entertaining some women in our hotel room, and we had a tape playing, some kind of avant garde from Ron Carter and Wayne Shorter, I think. One of the guests said, "I hate jazz." I asked "Why do you hate jazz?" She said, "Because it's so repetitive." We continued socializing, partying. Those tunes lasted 10-15 minutes. When the head (melody) of the song was played again, the woman perked up, smiled triumphantly and said "See, so repetitive!"

The funniest part of this is that she recognized the melody! 

I give you Ornette Coleman's "Round Trip". The solo was transcribed in Downbeat Magazine.

Heartbreak and Warm Champagne

Charlie Parker, in his biography Bird Lives is quoted: “I see a doctor for my pain, he gives me medicine but it don’t make me feel any better. I go see my man and buy a ten dollar bag, that makes me feel better.” (Look at his eyes in the photo.

I saw a doctor Monday for my sore throat and cough. I thought that would be an easy cure. I would feel better and my doctor would feel good knowing he cured me. On the flights to Amsterdam then Berlin, the dry air must have messed with the throat and the cure.

By Thursday, the sore throat was worse. On the way to the conference, passing a drugstore, and I decided to go in and see if I could get something over the counter to soothe the pain.

 

 

 

I entered the Apoteke, and a young woman (I really want to say “girl”) asked what must have been “What can I do for you” in German to which I am always embarrassed to answer with “Do you speak English?” You know how all day you run into people in shops, and while they’re waiting on you or arranging a service or whatever it is they do in life, you can tell they’re phoning it in, thinking about their weekend, or how they wish they had another job? And doesn’t it make you feel a little uncomfortable? Well, this was the opposite. This charming young person was dealing with my malady in the most serious and conscientious manner possible, with a smile capable of melting the arctic ice caps. She was like a one-woman global warming threat, not just the raising the world’s sea level, but also buoying up my own spirits. I felt an uptick in my Berlin life, my cares dissipated like the thin morning Bordeaux fog when the sun comes up.

“Yes”, she said with a radiant smile, “I speak English.” As she asked me a series of questions about my sore throat and cough, her warm and soothing smile didn’t fluctuate like a candle, but burned steadily into my heart as she nodded with each response. I was basking in the glow of that smile. “Dry, very sore?” mimicking pain and distress to punctuate. And so I left with lozenges, a spray and a complimentary pack of German Kleenex. (Did they always give this, or was a secret gift, just for me? “Here, I had a tree killed for you.”) During that day I thought of her each time I sucked on a lozenge or sprayed my throat. In the end, like love at first sight, neither medication worked, and I found myself awake at 4 AM, my throat racked with pain and knowing there were two more flights in front of me.

Sometimes the cosmos surprises us with a fortuitous combination of events that bring some sense to life and the universe. And so it came to pass that at 4:34 AM Saturday of the flights and the airport security, I decided to drink some water. Reaching for the complimentary glass bottle of water that the Park Inn Radisson kindly provides — the same four star hotel that asks you to pay 0,50 € to urinate in the men’s room of the lobby — my hand found a larger bottle, half full of Moët and Chandon. It was left over from the big dinner and I’d put it in the minibar that night. I took it out that night before dinner, thinking everyone would come up and polish it off, but that didn’t happen and the warm bubbly sat there, next to the bed. If it could talk, it would be making some snarky comment about how I was forced to buy Champagne that we wouldn’t finish. “What the hell, can’t really hurt, can it?” so a took a small swig. Warm Champagne isn’t great, I’ll grant you that, but you know what? It made my throat feel a little better than the water I’d had twice in the night when I got up to urinate free in my own toilet. (If RyanAir ran hotels, would they charge extra for a toilet?) I took another tug off the heavy bottle. It was helping!

 

“Don’t send me no doctor. Cause doctor can’t do no good.” Jimmy Oden (Saint Louis Jimmy).

✔ Doctor didn’t soothe sore throat.
✔ Charming pharmacist didn’t soothe sore throat
✔ Losanges and spray didn’t soothe sore throat
✔ Warm Champagne soothed sore throat

I’m writing this at 5:30 AM in a hotel that charges $0.66 to pee in the mens’ room of the lobby. I’ve told these young woman stories to many friends. Yes, this is only the latest in a series. And to the men I always say: “One day, this will happen to you, and you’ll remember me telling you this story.” It’s a look youngish women give you. A look that says, you’re not a contender anymore, you’re safe. It’s a look that says, “You look like a kindly man, a good man.” They never hesitate to ask you for directions in a big city. They smile warmly, knowing you won’t take the smile as flirtatious. They treat you like royalty and give you their full attention. Because when they look at you, they see their grandfather.

It’s 6:03 AM. Shoot me now.

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

We've come a long way, mostly in the wrong direction. 

Convenience over quality? I think we've gone too far. Sliced bread is a bullshit industrial product. So we're going to stand in line for hours to get a new phone, but we can't take 15 seconds to cut a slice of bread from a real loaf? Unsliced bread lasts longer and each slice will taste better fresh. 

This bread keeps for about one week without losing its flavor or texture. It's baked in a 400-year old oven located less than a half-mile from here. 

John Lee Hooker: The Art of Being

In the 1970's in Los Angeles, our agent connected the Pure Food & Drug Act  to open for John Lee Hooker on a short Canadian tour. One night, our bass player, Victor Conte subbed for John's regular guy, I don't recall why. We got to watch him up close, though, and I can tell you, it was a revelation. John Lee would have been in his mid 50's then, so observing the two young ladies he had on either side of him on an airplane left little doubt as to what they were doing under the blanket he had spread over his lap. The man knew how to travel!

"John Lee Hooker 1997" by I, Sumori

"John Lee Hooker 1997" by I, Sumori

One night at the Golden Bear, in Orange County, John Lee needed a band, and again, our agent called and we had to throw together musicians we knew to do both the opening set and then to accompany the Man. I remember some of our opening set was pretty cool, with Coleman Head's originals and singing, and the crowd liked us. Since John Lee plays guitar and Coleman also plays guitar, I played piano. Although I play very little piano, I could find the blues chords in E, which is the key most of his tunes are written in. It was then that we discovered that John Lee changed chords when he felt like it, not in even numbers of bars, as you'd expect after years of listening to and playing blues. You had to watch him and listen.

Here was a man who did what he did so naturally, so effortlessly, it was as if he was born into it. Imagine the changes he witnessed during his lifetime, from playing "race music" in Mississippi to hanging out with hip young women who found him irresistible. I know nothing of his personal life, but professionally, he always seemed to be able to just do what he did. Playing, to him, was as natural as breathing.

Here's a one-hour sampler of  that natural playing.



"God" is Behind Some of the Best Music

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin

Curtis Mayfield wrote "People Get Ready"

Curtis Mayfield wrote "People Get Ready"

Seal recently recorded "People Get Ready"

Seal recently recorded "People Get Ready"

In the middle of the twentieth century, a music that came to be called "soul music", "rhythm & blues" and by some, "devil's music", has its origins in gospel music and churches. Names we know as singers in soul music, names like Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin and so many others started by singling in church.

Some of the most famous American popular hits came from gospel music:   "Stand By Me",  is directly based on a gospel hymn. "Amazing Grace", "Oh Happy Day" and "I walk the Line". Curtis Mayfield said of his song "People Get Ready",  "That was taken from my church or from the upbringing of messages from the church. "

In 2001, Elvis Presley was inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame, as were popular artists Al Green, Mahalia Jackson and Johnny Cash. Whitney Houson first sang in gospel choirs and recorded a gospel album after starring in the move "The Preacher's Wife".

Rolling Stone magazine named "People Get Ready" the 24th greatest song of all time. It has been covered over the years since the original The Impressions version by many famous artists, most recently by Joss Stone, Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart, and Seal.

The 1st Time I saw Paris or How I learned French in the Hotel Bar

The last time was a few weeks ago. The next time will be in a little over a week, but there is nothing like the first time.

Of course I won't count the first night I spent near Paris, at the Airport Sheraton, or Hilton or whatever it was, because that would be the same anywhere in the world. I arrived at one of the busiest fashion weeks ever and there were no rooms in the city at all. The next day I was able to find a room near the Champs Elysées. Although I had toured many European cities a year or two previous to this trip, we did not come to France. 

photo by Didier Boy de la Tour copyright ACT lighting design 20011

photo by Didier Boy de la Tour copyright ACT lighting design 20011

When awoke to hundreds of honking car horns the next day and the smell, not of croissants and espresso coffees as I dreamed, but diesel fumes, I was still really excited. You know what's great? Being really excited in a strange and beautiful city, with all expenses paid! And when I say all, it will taken on additional significance shortly. I recall getting breakfast downstairs and then strolling around with the other person on this business trip. We discovered all the stuff people discover their first time in Paris. The funny brooms the street cleaners use, the ones that looked like they were just green branches attached to a stick. The idea of a bakery every few blocks, and once the diesel smell wore off, the constant roasted coffee smell. But Pairs, while fantastic during the day, is really magnificent at night.

Especially when the night began with the young Egyptian hotel clerk explaining how he could get us beautiful girls for the evening and add it to the hotel bill in some non-obvious way. I have never paid money for sex. This was the third time I had the possibility of getting it paid for as a gift by someone else, but the idea didn't appeal to me, not in a Nebraska brothel, not in Rome, and not even in a Paris hotel. However my friend agreed to see the woman and discuss terms according to what he thought of her. With this arrangement being made, we took seats in the tiny bar. 

A bar far, far away, something like this one.

A bar far, far away, something like this one.

There was a French-speaking businessman in a suit drinking and I answered his "Bonsoir" and nodded. He struck up a simple conversation in which I immediately misunderstood the first sentence "Comment trouvez-vous cet hôtel ?" as "How did you find this hotel?", to which I answered "in the phone book" or something. In fact he meant what did we think of it.

The drinks had loosened my self-consciousness to the extent where I suddenly flashed: "I am conversing in French!" This moment was surpassed by more important ones later in my stay, but for the moment I was enjoying this communication. Suddenly the room fell silent. All heads turned to the entrance of the bar where a slim, elegantly-dressed woman stood scanned the few men sitting in the place. This was literally decades ago, but as I set this down, I still get a chill thinking about that exact moment. This was then and is now still one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in person, just a few feet away from our bench. She was obviously of multiple origins, which, when it happens to take the best of each genes, will often produce great beauty. She was, I believe, partly Vietnamese, with absolutely perfect skin. I said she was slim, but she was not skinny. Her every feature, eyes, nose lips... was perfectly proportioned, and at this distance, this was not the effect of makeup. She looked over, walked up to us and sat down next to me, putting her hand gently on my leg in the most natural, but not provocative or vulgar way. Her voice reminded me of the voices of the lovely soft-spoken creatures of Tahiti. She looked directly into my eyes, evoking a feeling I will leave to the imagination of the reader, but it was what she said that surprised me out of the spell.

"Quel est votre signe ?" ("What is your sign?")

Of all the things a woman has ever said to me after the late sixties, when people would ask this 100 times a day, this was the last thing I'd expected from her. I then returned to my proud moment of mastering French, of which my colleague didn't speak or understand one word. I told her, "Cancer, but I am not the who..." 

"Qu'est qu'on fait, alors ?" ("So what do we do?") Without gestures I told her "I will stand up, and you will sit next to my friend. The rest is a blur to me, because the significant part was, to me over.

The next day, I didn't ask. He didn't tell. But that evening stands out in my memory as one of the most pleasant French lessons I ever had.

The Holy $hit Moment

Barry Katz, who has manages performers like Jay Mohr and Dave Chappel, has some great advice for people in show business, but they apply to the business of life as well. Barry's thoughts are so interesting, he was persuaded to do a podcast of his own called Industry Standard that you can find in all the usual places, such as iTunes. Listening to his interviews reminded me of one of my own "Holy Shit Moments". It happened about 8 years into my musical career. I few lines on a slip of recycled paper would change my life.

I was staying with a fellow musician and his girl friend, who thought herself to be poetic. I returned home one day to find a scribbled note next to the phone:

"Larry _____ called with a gig that he thinks you will dig." 

I called my friend back to learn that he recommended for an album recording with a famous band, followed by a European and then an Asian tour, about 8-12 weeks in all. This was definitely an HSM! It would lead to a big career boost, pleasurable experiences traveling the world playing to large, appreciative audiences, and I suppose to sum it up in the terms of the time,  "Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll".

Faced with such strong opportunities, one also has doubts. Can I do this? What if I blow the audition (or interview)? What if I can't fulfill the expectations of the group or even of my friend? The negatives were horrifying. But faced with a HSM, you can't let yourself go there.

What did I do? I applied an idea a friend told me about. It's a kind of positive thinking that uses a very simple technique: visualization. Mentally repeating to yourself an affirmation like, "I am ready to accept this good thing that has come my way."  While that thought is floating around, I pictured myself in the recording studio, playing my ass off. I imagined what it was like on a stage in front of an audience of thousands in Rome, Italy, the cheers and applause, the young women wanting to hang out with us, experiencing for the first time fine European restaurants, going to exotic places like Kyoto, Japan, any and all things positive that I could conjure as a vision. Had there not been a concrete opportunity involved, this would have been delusions of grandeur, immature daydreaming but because it was actually totally in the realm of possibility, this was affirming "I can do this!".

So if Barry asked me about my HSM, this is the story I would tell him. That it came to, I confronted it with the knowledge that I was ready for it, and went on to do it. Rome was our first concert, and as we stepped on stage to applause and cheers before a single not was played, and as I strapped on my guitar and looked out at those faces, I felt a chill. At that exact point in time, I saw the entire Holy Shit Moment play out, from the note, the phone call, the recording and rehearsals to the stage in Italy and the leader counted "One, tow... one two three.."

How You Know When You're Old

Paris is a big city. I lived there for over 20 years. I always felt safe, but it's still like New York and other big cities, strangers can be dangerous. If I had a 13 year old daughter, I'd advise her not to talk to strangers in either city. But the first realization of advancing age happened to me a few years ago.

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The New Change is No Change

I mentioned before that a total lack of change, stasis, is unnatural. That things ebb and flow, live and die, grow and decay. However, there's a new change coming to town: it's no change. Let me explain.

Photo: Art Resnick

Photo: Art Resnick

In the mid 1970's, I went on a world tour with John Mayall. We stopped in cities in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Every one of these countries had a separate sense of place. Outdoor advertising was less prevalent than today, so the visual noise level was lower, letting you observe more local detail. Even in the United States, regions were different, less homogenous, with more local business and less big brands.

By the 80's, the US was already completely inundated with chains, and when I travelled to Huntsville, Alabama to work at Intergraph, the change hit me. Huntsville is a small city, yet as you travel along the main highway, you see franchise names start to repeat.  And now, this monotonous sameness has spread to most of the world.

At some point in the future, we will reach a stage where "everything is everything" becomes literally true. Then we'll arrive at the state of Robert Silverberg's Schwartz Among the Galaxies, which I highly recommend you read.

Vacuum isn't the only Thing Nature Abhors

RCS.png

Unlike us, nature hates the lack of change. In the universe, nothing stays the same. Beings and things live and die, galaxies ebb and flow. Humanity's vast achievements, like empires and countries, rise and fall. We are approaching a period of increased rate-of-change where, from one day to the next, your job may cease to exist while new, previously unimagined skill sets are forged into vocations.

Rather than falling victim to changes, we can strive to engineer them. When it isn't possible to be the one precipitating change, seeing the potential of an imposed change early on is an asset worth developing. Everything we humans do in life will require honing those skills.

We call some people "visionaries", but don't they in fact impose their visions on the world? Putting together the elements of a particular wave of change to form a vision that can be made real requires intelligence, focus and discipline. Passion and lateral thinking are also indispensable. 

The ideal of retirement, fishing on a lake, for example, is destined to fail because of the extent to which lack of change is unnatural.

Flow with change, learning to swim with the current or developing the strength to swim against it.

Leaving the Job I Wanted Most in Life

17169734-lost.png

I was working for a company about 20 miles outside of Paris, just around the corner from where we lived at the time when I heard about the adventure. An Australian genius was putting together a team to develop incredible graphics software in a kind of think tank/lab. It sounded great, finally a chance to be a part of something really advanced. In fact, this was to be my first encounter with the Internet, in 1987, when the workstations they installed required an "Internet address" in order to communicate. We used it daily to transfer files back and forth between Rungis and Huntsville.

I investigated, and the more I heard about this project, the more I wanted in. I drove way out in the suburbs and met the Australian and his family. I was convinced he was a genius, but he was also a wacko, a mad scientist type. Although I was not going to be a programmer, they needed coordination, someone who could understand enough about software to handle that. It also required frequent trips to Huntsville, AL, and it seemed like a good idea for them to have a native English speaker on the team. After weeks of back and forth, which made me want the gig more and more, I finally did get it. I gave my notice and my boss told me he couldn't offer more money. I told him it wasn't about the money, it was about the opportunity to do something really new, significant. In the end, right before I left, he actually did end up offering a raise, which I turned down.I was going to be a part of something, a group that was developing something important.

Well, I got there and got setup, and within about two weeks, I found myself in a world I never would have suspected. A world of Lord of the Flies, or "Lost", where all these crazy people were constantly at each other's throats, playing stupid mind games. It didn't help at all that this American company subsidiary was a part of a parent company with the French corporate culture which could be summed up as "keep all information secret until you can use it to your personal advantage". So, the odor of back-stabbing was nearly omnipresent. The only straightforward human I recall seeing was the receptionist with the nice smile and the cute bangs.

I might have lasted 10 months to a year, I don't recall, but what I do remember distinctly is this. The people in that project were the biggest wasters of their own lives and time that I've encountered among people capable of actually controling their own destiny. Yes, I've met and interacted with hookers and junkies, and frankly, I have a lot more respect for them in general than I do for these educated wankers who constantly vied for power and status, rather than actually caring about what they were supposed to do. Addicts and prostitutes don't have an easy path to rectify their situation whereas these college graduate types could have done anything they wanted. They chose to be piranhas. They may as well have been on the Lost island.

Be careful what you wish for is a very real concept in my mind. It took years for me to get over the disappointment that came with that job I wanted so badly. The job I wanted so badly is now something like the memory of the time I did in the armed forces. I'm glad I did it because, although it was horrible and a waste of my own life force, it taught me a lot.  I picked myself up, left the dream lab and started a consulting business that developed into a career I never expected to have.

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to be yourself. Find your strengths and leverage them to do what you do best.